Skip to main content

Earthquakes May Have More Reach Than Previously Thought

Gareth Funning, an associate professor of earth sciences at the University of California, Riverside, is among a team of researchers who have found that earthquakes on thrust faults can spread 10 times farther than previously thought to nearby thrust faults. The finding could have severe implications on the Los Angeles area and other regions in the world.

New research shows that large earthquakes on one fault could jump to another causing widespread damage.

A University of California researcher says earthquake ruptures can jump much farther than previously thought and that could have implications for Southern California.

Earthquake faults are found all over Southern California and new research suggests that a quake on one fault could jump to another.

That finding isn't new, but the researchers who published the paper said they found a quake where the first temblor sparked another more than 30 miles away.

University of California Riverside researcher Gareth Funning said this cascading effect could mean more widespread damage when a large quake hits.

"An earthquake could propagate to a different fault. And so this is a possibility that should be accounted for in models of seismic hazard, and it currently is not," Funning said.

The initial discovery of the quake jumping was linked to a Pakistani quake. The second quake was triggered some 30 miles away — an impact 10 times farther than previously thought possible.

"We're going to actually try and reproduce the conditions in which such large jumps are possible. And then we might petition for...this mechanism to be included in future generations of the California seismic hazard models," Funning said.

The findings could mean it is time for an adjustment of California's earthquake hazard maps.

The risk from a major quake could be greater than expected because it could cause another major quake a significant distance away.


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

Photo of Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson
Environment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or challenging environment has for life in Southern California. That includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many other topics.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.